A tingling tongue can be a symptom of anxiety. Tingling and numbness are among the most common symptoms of anxiety. Usually, this occurs in the hands or feet, but it can happen elsewhere, including the tongue.

The medical community refers to a tingling of the tongue as psychogenic lingual paresthesia. Paresthesia is the term for an unusual sensation, and psychogenic means that the origin is psychological.

In this article, we discuss the link between anxiety and a tingling tongue in more detail. We also look at the other physical symptoms of anxiety.

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When a person is anxious, their body prepares them for a fight-or-flight response, triggering a wide range of physical changes. One of these changes is that the blood vessels constrict. This constriction reduces blood flow, which can cause numbness and tingling, especially in the feet and hands. It is also possible to experience tingling in the tongue.

A tingling tongue is a relatively common oral symptom. Although it can sometimes be due to physical issues, such as nerve damage, anxiety can also lead to tingling.

A 2015 case study reports on a 32-year-old man who had experienced tingling on the tip and right side of his tongue for 5 months. An examination revealed no physical cause.

Based on the man’s other symptoms, doctors diagnosed him with psychogenic lingual paresthesia, which is tingling in the tongue for psychological reasons, along with mixed anxiety and depressive disorder. The tongue sensation resolved after he began taking an antidepressant.

Sometimes, anxiety causes tics, which are sudden, uncontrolled, repetitive movements. Some tics, such as chewing or sucking motions, can injure the tongue.

Some injuries may lead to numbness, pain, or tingling. Although anxiety is ultimately the cause, it is important to seek medical treatment for the injury.

Anxiety is not the only possible cause of numbness in the tongue. Many people experience tongue numbness following dental procedures or an injury to the face. Numbing agents, as well as nerve damage from falls or oral surgery, may cause tongue numbness.

Other conditions that cause compulsive behaviors, such as Tourette’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), can also cause a person to hurt their tongue.

Treatment for anxiety-related tongue tingling begins with ruling out other potential causes. Once a person knows that their symptom stems from anxiety, they may feel less worried about it and more motivated to treat the anxiety itself.

Treating the anxiety usually fixes the sensation. The right treatment depends on the person, the type of anxiety they have, and their symptoms and treatment goals.

In some cases, temporary anxiety from stress goes away on its own when a person’s circumstances improve. Chronic anxiety, though, demands treatment.

A person’s treatment options may include:

  • therapy to discuss the cause of the anxiety and explore coping skills
  • medication, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs
  • support from family or friends
  • anxiety support groups
  • alternative and complementary treatments, such as acupuncture and chiropractic care
  • self-care strategies, such as meditating, exercising, or adopting a time management system

If another underlying condition is responsible for tongue tingling, a person may need treatment for that condition. People who notice prolonged tongue numbness may also need dental care.

A person should contact a doctor if:

  • tongue numbness lasts several days or does not improve when a person’s anxiety is better
  • anxiety does not get better with home management strategies
  • they experience different anxiety symptoms than usual
  • they notice numbness after taking a new medication or sustaining an injury to the tongue or mouth
  • anxiety medication makes the symptoms worse, does not work, or stops working
  • anxiety is severe enough to interfere with daily life
  • they experience thoughts of suicide or self-harm

Emergency care is necessary if bodywide tingling occurs alongside other serious symptoms, such as intense chest pain, and anxiety management strategies do not help. Examples of these strategies include deep breathing and muscle relaxation.

Anxiety is more than just an emotional experience. It affects the whole body because the body responds to a perceived threat by initiating the fight-or-flight response to prepare the person to deal with the threat.

Other symptoms of anxiety that a person might notice include:

  • rapid heart rate
  • high blood pressure that might cause flushing or make it feel as though the heart is beating very fast
  • palpitations of the heart, or a very fast heart rate
  • the feeling of being unable to catch a breath
  • breathing very fast
  • numbness elsewhere in the body
  • other strange sensations, headaches, or stomach pain
  • increased sweating
  • feeling more alert, which can make it difficult to sleep or relax

It is easy to worry about a tingling tongue, especially if a person already feels anxious.

Many different conditions can cause a tingling tongue, so it is important not to ignore it. If it disappears as anxiety eases, the anxiety is likely the cause.

A person should contact a doctor if they frequently experience anxiety, panic attacks, or numbness, or if they have persistent tongue numbness and tingling.